Viet Nam News
QUẢNG TRỊ — Trekking through Hướng Hóa protective forest in Đak Rông District of central Quảng Trị Province, it is not hard to see dozens of tree trunks, branches and twigs lying in disorder on the pathway.
Right next to the forest protection station, illegal logging is still ongoing, Lao Động (Labourers) newspaper reports.
The newly-built route leading to the Khe Nghi hydropower plant project has paved a better way for loggers to take action. Moving deep into the forest, more and more trees with diameters of trunks ranging from 40cm to 70cm are reportedly chopped down. Red latex continues to pour out from precious logs.
The logs are then sawed vertically by half, cut into short pieces and moved out of the forest through a steep slope by motorbike.
A forest ranger in the area told Lao Động newspaper that he saw locals sawing wood but only advised them not to do it and reported the case to authorised units for further punishment.
Another forest guard said the punishment sounds difficult, as loggers are from local ethnic minorities.
“They stop chopping when they see us. When we are away, they continue. They are warned of supervision team’s visit so when we come, nobody is there,” he said.
According to Trần Văn Tý, director of Hướng Hóa protective forest’s management board, the deforestation has gone on since November last year, adding that despite efforts of authorities to persuade and prevent the action, nothing has changed. Loggers have even threatened forest guards on duty.
The owner of the forest called for help from Đak Rông Commune’s People’s Committee and the Đak Rông District forest protection directing team.
From November 25 last year until January 25 this year, forest owner, forest guards in collaboration with communal People’s Committee were on duty in the forest. During this time, the deforestation cases reportedly declined. However, after that, loggers continued to chop down trees.
“We made efforts but still feel powerless due to ineffective co-operation,” Ty said.
Tống Phước Châu, head of forest ranger station of Đak Rông District said the forest loggers have sophisticated techniques to chop the timber.
The deforestation level has not been statistically determined yet.
Last month, a forest ranger died while patrolling the forest. Colonel Phan Thanh Quảng, head of Hướng Hóa District’s police department said on Wednesday that the fatality was caused by a crash from a car bearing Lao number plate.
Local authorities are working with Lao authorities to expand their investigation.
Khổng Trung, head of Forest Protection Department of Quảng Trị Province, said “From the forest owner to forest guards to local authorities, everyone knows the forest is being destroyed. Action must be taken. After fact-finding visit, we will clarify the case to penalise violators, and more importantly, to improve forest protection.”
The forest owner must be the first one to take responsibility in fighting deforestation, he said. — VNS